Thursday, February 25, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Baked Shrimp Scampi

I have a Valentine's day tradition to make a fancy dinner for my wife and I was hoping that this months recipe would be something I could use. Well since my wife doesn't eat shrimp I was a little disappointed at first - this would be another recipe I would not make since it would be only for myself. I thought about it a little more and thought - why not try it with chicken? Even better - why not do chicken and shrimp?

I'm not sure I have ever actually cooked with shrimp. The first thing I discovered was how hard it is to find some nice large shrimp in Minnesota. None of the grocery stores near me seemed to have what I needed so I ended up having to go to Coastal Seafoods - a specialty seafood store that I knew would have them and they did not disappoint.

The scampi was very easy to make. Since I was doing shrimp and chicken I made only a quarter recipe of each and made them in individual gratin dishes. The recipe makes it really easy to make part chicken since the meat really only comes into play at the end. I cut up a chicken breast into pieces about the same size as the shrimp. I even "butterflied" them like the shrimp. I put the chicken in the oven a little earlier since I thought it might take longer but I don't think it was necessary. As you can see from the pictures my shrimp browned a little too much on the top - only because I was busy taking pictures of the chicken and let the shrimp go too long.

The shrimp and the chicken were both terrific. I haven't had good shrimp like that in a long time and they were simple to make. The chicken was good too and my wife and son enjoyed it. Thanks to Jill at Insanely Good Food for this recipe. I have got to try the Mustard Wings she has on her site - they look really good.

Baked Shrimp Scampi
Serves 6

  • 2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.
  3. In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.
  4. Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Barefoot Bloggers: Coconut Cupcakes

When I saw this months recipes I thought - Oh great, two more recipes my wife won't eat. Normally I don't make the ones that only I will eat but I changed that rule for these. I have never really been a big cake person but coconut cake is one that I have a hard time passing up. I think it goes back to childhood memories when my grandmother would make a cake every year for my grandfather's birthday. The cake was always half coconut and half banana and I remember liking both halves.

So I decided to make these. It makes way more cupcakes than I will eat but it is not like it is that hard to get rid of cupcakes. I passed out a bunch at a meeting tonight and I will send whatever else I don't want to eat to my wife's work tomorrow - they won't last long there.

These cupcakes weren't much like my grandmothers cake but they were delicious. There is coconut in the cake so there is lots of coconut flavor. I loved the cream cheese frosting too - just like on a good carrot cake. As you can see my son had to use every ounce of his self control to keep from sticking his finger in a cupcake - I did let him lick the beater though. At lunchtime he told me "full ravioli, hungry cupcake".

Thanks to Jamie at Jamie's Green Kitchen for this pick. Looking at her blog it looks like she really, really, really likes cupcakes - I can see why she picked this recipe.

Coconut Cupcakes
Yield: 18 to 20 cupcakes

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
For the frosting:
  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.
  6. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.